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More than Half of Major Driving Offenses Dismissed or Downgraded in Some States, Disguising Consumer Driving History

New study featured at the 2019 TransUnion Insurance Summit

Approximately eight in 10 consumers have access to programs that can obscure their driving history, at times masking dangerous behaviors. A new study from TransUnion (NYSE: TRU) found these drivers have access to programs that remove or reduce their ticket violations, including DUIs, which may have adverse impacts on both insurers and the insured alike. The findings from the study, which observed 39 million violation records, were released today during the 2019 TransUnion Insurance Summit, attended by more than 150 insurance executives.

Insurers are missing the risk associated with the original violation when tickets are repeatedly downgraded or dismissed, leading to major impacts on insurance premiums for all consumers nationally. According to TransUnion’s study of court record violations, 57% of original major offenses in some states are unobservable by insurers due to dismissals or downgrades. The findings also showed that 41% of DUIs are likely to be dismissed, whereas driving without a seatbelt is dismissed only 10% of the time.

“Interestingly our findings show that the more serious the violation is, the more likely it is to be dismissed or downgraded. When insurers aren’t presented with the full picture, this can compromise how well premiums align with risk,” said Mark McElroy, executive vice president and head of TransUnion’s insurance business unit. “This dynamic, in turn, impacts good drivers who then subsidize insurance premiums for risky drivers.”

The More Serious the Violation, the More Likely it is to be Dismissed or Downgraded



Minor Offenses

Major Offenses

Guilty as Charged



Dismissed or Not Guilty






The study also determined that drivers with dismissed and downgraded violations are more likely to have a loss and have a 1.7 times higher loss cost than drivers with a guilty violation.

“At TransUnion, we are dedicated to drawing insights from the data to help create solutions that help businesses and consumers,” added McElroy. “This is why solutions that help mitigate risk and help provide accurate rates for applicants and policyholders are so important.”

TransUnion’s DriverRiskSM product family for the personal, commercial and life insurance industries helps provide carriers with a more complete picture. The solution combines court records with state Motor Vehicle Reports (MVRs) for a more comprehensive view of a person’s driving record at a reduced cost. This is accomplished by bringing together TransUnion’s extensive collection of traffic-related court records with MVRs.

DriverRisk enables insurance companies to capture valuable insight into:

  • Convictions from a prior state (which may be associated with a previous Driver’s License Number), regardless of a change in name or address;
  • Convictions while driving outside of resident state;
  • Tickets that are still active (not yet adjudicated as guilty)

About the Study

TransUnion’s study reviewed 39 million violation records from three states in the United States. The study evaluated various factors to understand characteristics of drivers obtaining downgrades and dismissals.

For additional information about TransUnion’s study findings and DriverRisk, please click here.

About TransUnion (NYSE:TRU)

Information is a powerful thing. At TransUnion, we realize that. We are dedicated to finding innovative ways information can be used to help individuals make better and smarter decisions. We help uncover unique stories, trends and insights behind each data point, using historical information as well as alternative data sources. This allows a variety of markets and businesses to better manage risk and consumers to better manage their credit, personal information and identity. Today, TransUnion has a global presence in more than 30 countries and a leading presence in several international markets across North America, Africa, Europe, Latin America and Asia. Through the power of information, TransUnion is working to build stronger economies and families and safer communities worldwide.

We call this Information for Good.SM